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Bannon, Priebus Deny Talk of Tension Inside White House

Chief strategist: ‘Corporatist’ media opposed to Trump’s ‘economic nationalist agenda’

Bannon, left and Priebus deny there is friction between the two. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Bannon, left and Priebus deny there is friction between the two. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s two top aides are dismissing whispers they are engaged in a personal feud at the center of a dysfunctional White House, and said the president will defy the “corporatist” media by implementing all of his campaign promises.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the “biggest misconception” about what really is going on inside the Trump White House’s inner circle is “everything you read” about tensions between he and chief strategist Steve Bannon. For his part, Bannon described the duo as “great partners.”

Priebus noted they share an office suite inside the West Wing and are “together from 6:30 a.m. until 11 at night” most days. During their joint appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, Priebus even kidded Bannon about his tendency to wear three collars at once — one on a shirt, one on a vest or sweater, and one on a jacket.

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The chief of staff, who was a central player in Trump’s campaign, used their relationship as a metaphor for the Republican Party. He noted they have their differences on policy and come from separate wings of the party, but said if the GOP’s many factions stick together, “similar to Steve and I, it can’t be stopped.”

Bannon again sharply attacked the media, calling it the “opposition party” over and over, and accusing journalists of “weeping” and “crying” when Trump secured the presidency in the early morning hours of Nov. 9.

Bannon and Priebus Deny Tension, Rail Against Media

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The former head of the web outlet Breitbart said the media has been collectively “dead wrong” in its portrayal of the president and administration just over a month in because “we’ve got a group of people grinding it out.”

Trump and his staff are “narrowly focused” on turning his campaign pledges into policy, Bannon said, telling the conservative audience “those promises are going to be implemented.”

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Bannon described the media as failing to understand Trump and the movement that put him in the White House. Each day in the Oval Office, Trump tells his aides he feels he must remain focused on those campaign promises, Bannon said. Trump’s daily refrain sounds like this: “No, I promised the American people this,” his top strategist said.

They did discuss a bit of policy specifics. White House officials and Republicans on Capitol Hill are discussing what they call out-of-the-box trade deals that might be brokered with individual countries, Bannon said.

He described Trump’s philosophy on the economy as “economic nationalism,” declaring his policies will bring back manufacturing jobs that companies have been moving abroad for some time. Bannon told the crowd each day will bring a “fight” with news organizations, saying the “corporatist, globalist media” is fundamentally opposed to Trump’s “economic nationalist agenda.”

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